Welcome to another edition of my updates from the state capitol! Is it mid-February already?
I appreciate your support – please consider a contribution today as we get ready for the 2018 campaign. I’m already knocking on doors and working towards re-election – I need your help for what will be an expensive race!
This week is the LAST week to hear bills in their chamber of origin, meaning Senate bills have to be heard in the Senate committees they were assigned to, and the same is true for the House. Next week is what’s called “crossover week,” where the bills switch chambers, and we do final votes on a lot of the bills we passed out of committee. The following week, the Senate starts hearing House bills, and the House starts hearing Senate bills.
So this week is BUSY! Yesterday in our Senate Commerce and Public Safety committee we had 21 bills on our agenda, a hearing that lasted about five hours. We have another long agenda ahead of us tomorrow in our Senate Finance committee hearing as well as members try to get their bills heard before the deadline.
I do have some good news to share: two of my bills will receive committee hearings this week. SB 1296, which deals with emergency communications from state and local governments, and making them more accessible for the disability community, will be heard in the Senate Government committee Wednesday afternoon.
SB 1139, my bill to strengthen our laws around child marriages and protect young women, will be heard in the Senate Judiciary committee Thursday morning. Most people don’t realize that Arizona has no “floor” when it comes to a minimum age when children can get married; my bill would set a floor at 16 years of age, and only allow it for 16 and 17 year old’s who have been emancipated from their parents. It’s modeled after a bill that Texas signed into law last year – yes, Texas!
Both bills have a majority of the Senate signed on to them, and I’m hopeful they will pass committee this week!
Some bad news to share with you, however: I was unsuccessful in my attempt to get SB 1391 through the legislature, my bill that would help provide suicide prevention training in our middle schools and high schools to help stem this epidemic of teen suicides that have been ravaging our communities.
The bill was assigned to two committees (it didn’t have to be, and this was a decision made by the Senate president in an attempt to make it more difficult for the bill to pass), and that meant I had to convince TWO committee chairs to hear the bill.
I was successful in getting one of the committee chairs to hear the bill, but the other would not budge, despite my repeated attempts to convince her. We organized email writing campaigns and phone calls, shared stories with colleagues, and spread the word on social media.
We were successful, however, with raising awareness on this important issue and educating people about how severe this problem has become. It has hit LD18 especially hard, with several suicides in just the last few years alone. I was interviewed on KTAR twice last week, and ABC 15 ran a story on their newscast as well.
This is an issue we’re going to keep pushing, and if I am fortunate enough to get re-elected this fall, I’ll push it again next year, with bipartisan support. I’ve truly been touched by the outpouring of support we’ve received over this bill, titled the Mitch Warnock Act, after a young man we lost at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe. As long as I hold a seat in the state senate, I’m going to keep pushing this issue forward and get some training that will help our teachers and educators spot the warning signs and find out ways they can help our students.
During session, various groups and organizations will have a day at the capitol to promote their cause or business, and will organize events like lunches, speeches, or visits with lawmakers throughout the day. We have these almost every day, and it’s always a great opportunity to meet with constituents and professionals and learn more about the work they do.
Last week, one of my favorite days at the capitol arrived, and that’s Gabriel’s Angels Day. Gabriel’s Angels is an amazing organization that uses pet therapy dogs to visit groups around the state. They bring several of their dogs to the capitol for the legislators to meet, and I always enjoy having them in my office!
Meet George, a Bernese Mountain Dog, who weighs 108 pounds! Or in other words, almost as much as me!
And tomorrow is another one of my favorite days at the capitol – ASU Day! Stay tuned for pictures next week!
More to come next week – I appreciate your support and feedback. Show your support today!
Yours in the fight,